A longtime assistant to the late screen goddess Lana Turner charges that the lawyers who handled Turner's $1.7-million estate failed to carry out her last wishes.
Carmen Cruz's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit charges that attorney Vicki Magassin and her firm were negligent in setting up the Lana Turner Trust after the star's death from throat cancer in 1995.
Cruz's attorneys, Robert C. Rosen and John B. Wallace, say in court papers that Turner changed her will before she died, disinheriting her daughter, Cheryl Crane, and leaving everything except a few personal items to Cruz. But when Turner's legal affairs were settled, Cruz was left with "virtually nothing."
Hollywood discovered Turner at 16 when a talent agent spotted her at a soda fountain across the street from Hollywood High School. She became known as the Sweater Girl, and her pinup poster was revered by thousands of G.I.s during World War II. But she was even more famous for her torrid personal life, which included seven marriages and romantic affairs with billionaire Howard Hughes and film star Tyrone Power.
The turmoil continues even after her death.
The Lana Turner Trust, Cruz's court papers say, was drained by taxes and expenses--including excessive lawyers' and accountants' fees.
Cruz, her attorneys say, "was extremely loyal" to Turner and nursed her during her lengthy illness after Crane allegedly abandoned her. Crane could not be reached and the law firm that handled the estate had no comment.
Crane, you might recall, gained notoriety in 1958 when she stabbed her mother's boyfriend, reputed gangster Johnny Stompanato, in the stomach with a 10-inch kitchen knife during a confrontation in her mother's baby-pink boudoir. Cheryl, then 14, claimed she was defending her mother. A judge called it justifiable homicide.
BAKE SOMEONE HAPPY: The man who created "Safehouse Beautiful," the satiric Web site about the Sara Jane Olson/Kathleen Soliah bomb plot case, has emerged from cyberspace to introduce himself: He is writer and Web designer Jack Golan of Sacramento, also known as "Lektrik."
Olson, you might recall, is the former lefty-turned-domestic goddess. After 24 years on the lam, she faces murder conspiracy and explosives charges from her alleged days with the Symbionese Liberation Army--the same folks who snatched newspaper heiress Patty Hearst.
Plans by Olson's supporters in St. Paul, Minn., to raise money for her defense by publishing a cookbook of her favorite recipes inspired the site and its companion, "Bomb Appetit," says Golan.
"Their efforts to spin a former [alleged] terrorist into Martha Stewart was simply too inviting a target for spoofing," Golan told us, via e-mail of course.
NO, YOU GET OVER IT: A production secretary who says one of her bosses at "Politically Incorrect" made passes at her, grabbed her breasts, poured water down her blouse and whipped her across the backside with a dog leash is suing the show, a production company and Home Box Office for sexual harassment.
Ann Marie O'Reilly charges that soon after she went to work at the chat show, the supervisor asked her out. She declined, but it allegedly did not end there.
According to the Los Angeles Superior Court suit filed by attorneys Thomas P. Bleu and Nikki Fong, he touched her breasts whenever she walked by, commenting, "They're out there for the taking. How could I not grab them?" When she complained to production executives, court papers say, O'Reilly was told "that she should get over what happened."
Instead, she sued. No comment from the defendants.
SILENCE IS GOLDEN: A state appeals court has ruled that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge can be sued for comments he made outside his courtroom.
Superior Court Judge Alexander Williams III was publicly scolded by the Commission on Judicial Performance a couple of years ago for directing a barnyard epithet and obscene gesture at lawyers in his courtroom. Nonetheless, he handily won reelection last year.
But this is the flap that won't die. The state Court of Appeal recently reinstated a libel and slander suit filed against the judge by the plaintiff in the original case. The judge is immune from lawsuits for his conduct on the bench. But the court ruled that he is not protected for any remarks he might have made in the hallway or to reporters.
Williams is being sued by Robert Soliz, a county employee who was involved in a union dispute that landed on Williams' calendar in 1995. After an unsuccessful settlement conference, Williams told Soliz's lawyer in profane terms that the suit was worthless. Soliz charges in his suit that the judge also pointed a finger at him and swore.
Three days later, Williams gave his version of events, contradicting Soliz's version, to a reporter. Soliz charges that the judge's comments implied he was liar.
Williams, a former federal prosecutor, is one of the hardest-working judges in the courthouse and is very popular with jurors. In a mea culpa after the incident, he says stress drove him to lose his temper.
He once told us: "I am not a potted plant." But he did not respond to our call requesting comment. And who can blame him?